The Barry Zito Hypothetical
Imagine for a moment that you are falling through the air with two parachutes strapped to your back. The first parachute cost a lot of money, the second (your backup in case something goes wrong) was relatively inexpensive. As you plummet toward Earth you have a moment to reflect, and suddenly realize you were duped: the first parachute isn’t really much better than the second. You wasted your money.
A. Shrug your shoulders and keep both parachutes, because it’s too late to get your money back (though you’ll be less trusting of that silver-tongued parachute salesman next time!)
B. Shake your fist at the heavens in impotent rage…and then keep both parachutes, because it’s too late to get your money back (but seriously — fuck that parachute salesman, who is probably sleeping with your wife right now!)
C. Rip the first parachute off your back and cast it aside, and hope like hell the cheap one works
If you answered “C.”, congratulations — you are Bruce Jenkins’s anonymous source and this article is about you. A snip:
A source close to the team indicated Tuesday that there is “exasperation” with Zito, that his status as the No. 5 starter is “definitely not safe,” and that the team would even consider buying out his expensive contract before Opening Day if that’s what it takes to say farewell.
Jenkins goes on to suggest Zito could be replaced by the likes of journeyman Jeff Suppan or minor leaguer Clayton Tanner. So you see where this is going. Zito is the expensive parachute. Suppan, Tanner and the various other mediocre and/or untested fifth-starter options are the cheap parachute. The guy in freefall is the Giants. (Oh, and this dude is the salesman.)
The only, only way it would make sense for the Giants to get rid of Zito is if they could: a) Get a player of equal or greater value in return; or b) Get another team to eat enough of his salary so they could buy a player of equal or greater value. Since the chances of either of those things happening is, by all indications, exactly zero, releasing Zito just because he hasn’t lived up to expectations is tantamount to releasing a perfectly good (if over-priced) parachute in mid-jump. (OK, now I will let this poor, tortured analogy crash into the ground and die.)
Of course, Jenkins is a columnist and his job is to stir the shit, perhaps even to the point where some sap will bang out a 600-word blog post instead of doing actual work or playing outside with his children. And, as Andrew Baggarly reported yesterday, Bochy and the Giants front office have distanced themselves from the anonymous remarks and assured Zito there’s no plan to move him (because, again, that would be impossible).
But as Spring Training — let alone the regular season — progresses, you’re going to see and read more and more stuff like this. The Giants are the champs now (not sure if you heard) and they’ve got a target on their back. They’ve also got a cable network filming a reality show about them, and don’t think the bosses at Showtime aren’t hunting for drama and controversy.
Just remember whenever you hear talk of trading Zito and that gargantuan, historically awful contract: parachute, mid-air, ain’t happening.